A Londoner has lost his job after being diagnosed with a pandemic-induced anxiety disorder that makes everyday tasks such as shopping and taking public transport beyond difficult. Late last year, doctors diagnosed Richard Weeks, 39, with agoraphobia, a fear of being in situations or environments where escape might be difficult or where help might not be available if things went wrong, as defined by the NHS.
Richard, from Croydon, was forced out of his 10-year job after his job required him to return to the office full-time, despite telling them of his condition and falling ill with d ‘other mental health issues which meant he wasn’t ready for commuting and the office environment again.
Speaking to MyLondon about his agoraphobia, Richard explained: “It’s the thoughts of racing and the anxiety of just wanting to run away from (a) situation that gets my heart racing. I’m going to get out there and walk down the road to buy groceries, but sometimes I’ll turn around and go back if I look out the window and see it’s really busy – I’ll just turn around and try another day .”
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He added: “I feel a tightness in my chest just from the prospect of going there and what may happen. Am I going to get sick? Am I going to have a confrontation with someone?”
Richard reveals that during the pandemic, he only left his house once a month to fill up on gas and electricity. He says living alone for the past two years, along with his routine and fear of germs and crowds, ultimately contributed to his diagnosis.
Although Richard is in therapy, he expects a more personal method that will attempt to address the feelings caused by agoraphobia. He now tries to leave the house at least twice a week, although social situations with friends are always difficult and Richard often has to cancel at the last minute if he becomes too anxious about being out. outside his home.
” Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been a bit anxious about being around groups of people – being on the bus and around people, just the thought of germs being on me or around me,” Richard explained. “During the pandemic, it was two years of being in the apartment by myself.
“Just being stuck inside and not having an excuse to leave to go to a building or get on a bus, this anxiety that I’ve had all my life turned into total agoraphobia. I don’t haven’t been on a bus at all, maybe once at the very beginning of the pandemic. Now the idea of getting back on the bus is part of the reason why I had to quit my previous job.
“Covid has really changed my world for a negative – because I’m stuck in the house thinking about all the germs going around and all the warnings to stay home, now trying to get back to what was once normal now seems abnormal and terrifying,” he added.
Luckily, Richard was offered a new job that allowed him to work full-time from home – but the last paycheck owed to him from his old job turned out to be far less than he expected – which he said was just £37. .
The salary that Richard would normally spend on rent, bills, food and living is currently unattainable, so he hopes to raise £800 which will carry him over until he receives the first paycheck from his new job. An incredible £352 has been raised so far, meaning Richard is nearly halfway to his goal.
You can read more about Richard’s fundraising here.
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